Course Review: Erin Hills

Seems like the right time to reboot this.

Erin Hills – Erin, WI (Architects: Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, & Ron Whitten)

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Bob Lang made millions selling greeting cards and then turned his passion to golf later in life. More specifically, he wanted to build a golf course that would host a major tournament in central Wisconsin. Lang sought out experts like Ron Whitten and executives at the USGA to get opinions on his dream. After showing his consultants the Kettle Moraine land he planed to build on, they were sold, and the USGA had a new project that could be the newest belle of the U.S. Open ball.

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Construction on Lang’s new love began in 2004 and the course officially opened in 2006 in Erin, Wisconsin. Erin is roughly 40 minutes west of downtown Milwaukee, but nowhere near a major highway. The course was originally built with quirks that were meant to mimic famous design characteristics of Scottish…

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Torrey Pines South Course Review Redux

Another Farmers, another re-post of my Torrey Pines course review. Enjoy!

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Equipment Review: OptiShot2 Home Golf Simulator

Winter Sucks, I Do My Best To Make The Most Of It

What is a golf nut supposed to do when you live in the Midwest, the ground is covered with 10 inches of snow, and it is 27 degrees outside? You have an epiphany that your garage has 10 foot ceilings and insulated walls that make it possible for you to hit golf balls in there. That’s a start, and something for a desperate man to make the best of. Last year that lead me to drape a net in the corner, buy a range mat, and hook up an Ernest Sports launch monitor to get my winter fix. This year I decided I needed more visuals so I upgraded my garage range with an OptiShot2 home simulator.

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Set Up

My set up is anything but glamorous. First, there’s no actual heat in my garage. I can make it about 20 degrees warmer than the outside temp thanks to a space heater. That made things a little chilly when it was 14 last weekend, but 35 degrees in the garage with a stocking cap on my head and no breeze and I was fine. You don’t need 10 foot ceilings because the OptiShot is usable without even hitting a ball (more on that later) but it does make the experience more realistic and helps you get your ‘winter conditioning’ in. I back out the cars, sweep, turn on the heater, move all the kids toys out of the way, drop the net and mats, hook up the OptiShot to a PC and use my recycling bin as a desk. Nothing fancy, but it does the job and I’m hitting balls in 10 minutes. I cut a spot for the Optishot sensor in my old mat and use that to complete my hitting area.

The recycling bin is a nice touch, I know.

The recycling bin is a nice touch, I know.

The garden hoses and deck furniture in for the winter aren’t in play for me, neither is the window, but I did hangover shank one wedge (out of about 1000) into the drywall last winter. I suppose that’s there forever. I’m going to try to create some sort of shank shutter for the window for when my drunk neighbors decide they want to tee it up. I also bring out a flat screen TV for a monitor when necessary. Maybe next year I’ll upgrade to a screen with a projector and ditch the net.

What’s In The Box? 

Not much. That’s part of the beauty of this operation. OptiShot provides you with this piece of turf with infrared sensors built in, a long USB cord, a foam ball, a rubber tee holder, and some instructions as to how to get their software. The software is simple, you go to the site and access a download with your product code. Done.

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The foam ball is worthless unless you’re playing in the house without a net. Hitting off the small turf area with nothing around it can play with your head so I suggest cutting a space into your mat or whatever you’re hitting off of. I’d also suggest being on the same level as the sensor, i.e. not standing on the bare floor while the OptiShot sensor has the ball raised an inch. That’s no way to get better.

How It Works

Once you’ve got the software and the USB lines hooked up you’re all set. The menus on the program are easy to use. You can create a log in to get software updates and play online. If online stuff isn’t your thing then you can use the practice range or play several courses. Honestly, I could use this all day just in the range mode, but the on course experience keeps things interesting and makes you think about the shots you’re trying to hit.

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The simulator is nearly ready to use out of the box, but for best results you’ll need to hit the range and set up your bag and configure your clubs. The sensors pick up your club path and swing speed. You select the club you’re hitting and if you’ve set up your set honestly you’ll get lifelike results. I have my launch monitor next to the OptiShot to check its accuracy and it is within 5 yards on 95% of my shots. It carry a 5 iron 190-195. When I hit it flush on the OS it will go 180 into an 8 mph wind and 205-10 with that same wind. You can also set your settings to indicate the use of a foam ball or no ball, but what fun is that?

My two biggest complaints about the OptiShot2 are next. First, the short game. When you miss a green you have to try to feel what a certain yardage feel like while hitting into a net. The distance the ball will travel also varies on the lie you have. For example, you miss a green short side in a bunker. The OS tells you that you have a 18 yard shot in the bunker. You can see a lip you have to hit it over, so now you have to tell OS that you’re going to hit it higher and then guess at how much harder you have to swing because of the sandy lie. This is probably a better experience when you have a screen to hit into that has the course projected on to it (the full simulator experience). Putting is similar, but you can read the green on the screen, adjust your alignment through the PC, and putt over the sensors with some feel once you figure it out. I do recommend setting gimmies inside of 5 feet. Some of the club path feedback from OS is valuable in analyzing your putting stroke so using the flat stick on OptiShot isn’t a total waste.

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Additionally, there is one huge glitch with the OptiShot2. Luckily there is an easy fix for it. The OS sensors don’t work well with woods that have a black and/or jagged finish on the bottom. Silver and smooth is what works best. I used my Titleist 915 D3 for two rounds with the OS telling me I was hitting a 20 yard push cut on 3/4 of my tee shots. This model is black on the bottom with the active recoil channel. That puts it in the black and jagged category for the OS sensors.

I miss that club right maybe 1 in 5 swings. I thought I was just slashing it and was trying to make corrective swings. The OptiShot feedback said my clubface was open anywhere from 5 to 20 percent. What the fuck? After digging around online I read where several people had the same experience. To fix it you simply have to take a piece of white or silver reflective tape and put it over the unsmooth part of the bottom of your club and make sure it is square/parallel to the club face. That will allow the OS sensors to pick up the club accurately. I added tape and have had no issues since. That is not my pic above, not my hand, club or car either. I used TyVek tape leftover from finishing our basement.

Courses

The game comes with some classics, like Cog Hill, both Torrey Pines courses, Bethpage Black, Kapalua, Riviera, and several more. For a fee, either in a package or each separate, you can download bonus courses like Pebble Beach, Medinah, St. Andrews, and Sawgrass. They look good and are pretty accurate (I’ve played a lot of these for real) but aren’t perfect. They also look better when I use a TV as a monitor instead of the laptop. You can see the view from the first tee at the Riv below.

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Buying the courses one at a time is a $30 charge. That seems steep when the OS itself retails for about $299 unless you get an upgraded package with nets, mats, etc. Also, most of the courses don’t use their real names. Obviously there’s a copyright issue with them. You’ll recognize Riviera as “Hogan’s Alley”. Bethpage Black is “Long Island Black”. Medinah No. 3. is “the Windy City Club”. And so on. Warwick Hills, an old club that is nothing great today, uses its real name for some reason. Warwick hosted the PGA Tour’s now defunct Buick Open for over fifty years in the Flint, Michigan area.

When OptiShot first launched, both in the original and the second model, the course list included “Sweet Magnolia” – an Augusta National ripoff. The screen shots of that course look as good as the old Tiger Woods video game that had Augusta on it. For unexplained reasons the OptiShot people pulled it from the software in a 2016 update. I suspect the Men of the Masters got wind of the unlicensed use of their club and made some lawyer-ed up threats. Fuckers.

Overall

The OptiShot2 simulator isn’t perfect, but it is a lot of fun for a golf nut to have access to for the winter and it does give you good feedback on your swing. I do suggest having a launch monitor on hand to back up the results the simulator gives. At the price point these sell for there is no better option. I picked mine up on Ebay. All in for the net, the OS, and two mats I’m only about $300 invested into it. That’s pretty damn reasonable. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll respond.

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Course Review: Bethpage State Park (Black Course)

Bethpage State Park (Black Course) – Farmingdale, NY (Architect: Albert Warren Tillinghast 1936)

Background

When the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt set the wheels in motion for his New Deal that would bring the country out of the worst economic times it had ever seen. Part of FDR’s new deal included plans to put people back to work building infrastructure and other public goods, including parks. Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York on Long Island is a result of one of the New Deal’s programs. In 1936 A.W. Tillinghast was hired to build the Black Course at Bethpage.

The Black Course has become infamous for being tough, just like the Long Islanders that play it, but before 1995 Tilly’s fantastic design had been left for dead. Enter David Fay, the USGA’s former Executive Director had played the Black in his youth. He happened by the course on a trip back to his home in New Jersey while still the USGA chief and saw the potential it had. The course simply needed a face lift. Fay got the state, the USGA, and NBC all to buy in and agree to have Bethpage host the 2002 Open only if a severe restoration could be done in time for the championship. Thanks to Fay’s vision and everyone that bought into it the Black Course became the first publicly owned facility to host a U.S. Open. Since then it has hosted a 2nd U.S. Open (2009), a Fed Ex Cup event with more coming, and a PGA Championship and Ryder Cup in the not too distant future.

 

When Fay walked the course on a whim that fateful day he saw a beautiful old girl that needed an influx of cash and some TLC. Rees Jones, the Open Doctor, was hired to do the restoration work. The bunkers you see on the course today are mostly his works of art in Tillinghast’s fingerprints, but the routing and green complexes are all thanks to Tilly. Mr. Jones came back between the U.S. Opens and added another 400 yards and I noticed new tee boxes on several holes that didn’t exist when I first played the course. The Black has some of the thickest everyday rough you’ll ever play thanks to their staff over-seeding it every spring.

I’ve made two trips around the Black. The first was in 2002, 4 months after Tiger Woods won his 2nd U.S. Open there. The rough was cut to 3.5 inches, but was so thick you could not advance a club longer than a 7 iron from it. The sand in the bunkers was so fluffy that any shot that landed in them that had height on it would result in a fried egg. I played from 7100 yards, had two birdies, and shot 79.

I returned in 2006 in the middle of a NYC heat wave. The course is “walking only” and I carried my bag in 102 degree heat. There isn’t much shade on the rugged Black. Moisture wicking material hadn’t yet hit the golf world. My cotton shirt and shorts were ruined for life after that day but I still had a blast. We played from 7400 yards that day and I shot 77. I can practically remember every shot. The Black does that to you. Everything about it is memorable.

Of course the urban legend surrounding the Black course is that you have to sleep in your car to get a tee time. Not exactly. It is a State Park and the New York State employees run the show here. Tee times can be made by New York residents in the tee time system. Back in the day, other state residents could donate a kidney, get in the tee time system, and grab a time by calling to see if anyone cancelled the day before. Ok, not a kidney, but they did want a copy of your license and social security card to add you. I actually am in the system and made a time there my 2nd time around. The first time I showed up around 9 on a nice October day and was on the 1st tee by 10:45. Weekends are a different story. If you don’t have a time you’re sleeping in the car. When you pull in they give you a wrist band to make sure you don’t get out of line. The last car in line keeps their lights on. You get certain times before the sun comes up and a few cancellations. This is the democracy our forefathers dreamed of 250 years ago.

Layout/Scenery

If it isn’t dark out when you pull into the Bethpage parking lot you notice that it is immediately aesthetically pleasing. The old trees that line the drive, the stately clubhouse, the view off the first tee….nothing about it screams “MUNI!” until you see the driving range or try to check in (more on both later). The brick walk behind the clubhouse leads you around the putting green and the famed warning sign comes into view as if you’re about to chug a bottle of poison.

That’s all New York ego. Don’t let it scare you. From the 1st tee your drive will launch out into space to a fairway that is about 50 feet below the tee. It is a majestic opening shot and your ball will travel about 30 yards further than you’d expect (unless into the wind) because of the change in elevation. What a great way to start a round. The grueling walk begins once you find level ground in the first fairway. Holes 1, 15, 16, 17, and 18 are the only 5 holes in the same section of the park as the clubhouse. To get to number two you cross Round Swamp Rd. and the hike truly begins up and down Long Island foothills you didn’t know existed. The warning sign is more applicable to the walk you face if you ask me.

That is the par 3 eighth hole above. It looks benign and the water isn’t in play but that tree will reach out and slap a push into the H2O if you get sloppy. Humble brag alert –   I birdied it both times! The turn is made to the back nine at the farthest point from the 1st tee. They don’t sell rounds of 9 just as the golf gods intended it to be. At this point in the hike the course actually flattens out for 3 or 4 holes, but 10, 11, and 12 can be some of the toughest on the course. If you really bust a drive you may have a short iron to 11, but the 10th is a long par 4 you’ll be lucky to reach in two no matter how good you hit it. If you’re in the rough you have no shot at the green.

Your last hole before you again cross Round Swamp Road is the short par three 14th hole. The USGA will play the hole anywhere from 100 yards to 165. I think you’ll see it more around 150 for the Barclays, PGA, and Ryder Cup events coming up. A reader tells me they’ve revamped the green a touch. Perhaps there was too much slope and it was brushed up to allow for more hole locations.

That’s Tiger at the 15th above. This hole statistically is the toughest but it has been neutered a bit by modern equipment. At 475 yards most players will hit 3 wood then 8 iron to the severely uphill and undulating green. A long iron into this in 2002 made the approach much more troublesome. The hike up to that green is exhausting at that point in your day, and once you get there you have to focus on navigating one of the Black’s few greens that has real teeth.

The 17th might be the signature hole of Bethpage. The 200 yard par 3 has a natural stadium around it. The fescue grown post 2002 between the tee and the green frames the hole well with the hills, trees, and bunkers creating a postcard back drop. The Black’s weakest link is its finishing hole. Eighteen is a mere 410 yards down hill. Three iron followed by a short iron is no way for a major championship to be decided. There’s no room to extend the hole either. In 2009 the USGA had the hole play 295 yards in the final round and almost no one went for it. While the hole isn’t perfect the idea of making it driveable is as gay as cum on a mustache.

If I have a favorite hole (it is hard to pick just one) I’d go with the 5th shown above. Number 5 at Bethpage Black is often discussed as the quintessential Tillinghast hole. It is about a 480 yard par 4 with a new tee added around 2006. There are bunkers down the right and woods on the left. The tee shot requires a slight fade or a 295 yard carry over the bunkers. The approach requires a slight draw to a green that sits 25 feet above the fairway. Fade tee ball with a draw approach, that’s why they say its a classic Tilly hole.

My first grade in this review is a 5 out of 5 for the layout. There were once some ugly backdrops around holes 3, 15, and even 2 but those have been cleaned up. I’m nitpicking the 18th hole only because it is the final hole. If it were played in any other order it would be a fine hole. I won’t deduct a point for that. Tillyinghast’s routing is classic and thrilling. When you walk the land you know you’re some place special.

Score: 5.0

Conditioning

My sample size of what the conditioning is like at Bethpage is a small one, but both times around the Black the place was in fantastic condition. This was true even in October just a few weeks after the greens were aerated. As I noted already the rough is thick and lush as if the grass is being fed steroids. It isn’t kept long for everyday play but the ball settles down easily in it. You don’t get too many good lies. See below.

The greens at the Black aren’t too undulating, minus a few, and from what I saw they were consistent and mowed at decent speeds for both my loops. I’d bet for everyday muni golf you won’t find any better. They probably run about a 10.5 on the Stimp meter. If they made them much faster the every man playing the course for 99% of its rounds wouldn’t break 100. I also noted above that in 2002 the bunkers were too soft. That was fixed 4 years later. The track I saw in 2006 could have hosted a Tour event with 48 hours of prep. No point deductions here.

Score: 5.0

Value

Because Bethpage is a state park the New York residents get a nice break here just like San Diego County residents get a price break at Torrey Pines. You can see the fee structure below.

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Yeah, $65 to play a 2 time U.S. Open host site that is getting a PGA and a Ryder Cup…??? There’s no better deal in the world for a big boy golf course. Even the out of state rate isn’t too bad and well worth it. I think I paid $89 and $110 for my fees around the Black. Nothing in New York is cheap, and you rarely find true value in anything within 50 miles of Manhattan, but golf at Bethpage is the exception to the rule.

Score: 5.0

Service/Pace

So far everything at Bethpage Black sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Here’s a category that will take the Black down a peg. When you check in you’re basically cattle. You stand in a line like you’re at a bank. You have to have all your shit ready and your whole group there to get a wrist band that gets you a date with the starter. That’s all after you slept in your car if you went that route. The staff is made up entirely of state employees. They don’t have to be nice because there are 20 people behind you that would love to be shit on just to play the famed course.

Things don’t get much better from the staff once you get to the 1st tee. The starter has seen all types and he’s not there to entertain you like so many with his job might try to do at a resort course. He’s a tough Long Island guy who wants you to be ready and get the fuck out of his sight. He’ll grunt at you as he cuts off your wristband (it is entirely possible that the wrist band system is gone since I haven’t played the course in ten years). Staff at the halfway house is average at best and don’t expect a hot college girl to roll up on a beverage cart. Those don’t exist at the Black.

You like that big black cloud I just threw at you concerning the service? Well, it only gets worse in this category. There is no pace at the Black course. It isn’t a crawl, but you’ve got a packed course everyday that has as many tourists on it as it has locals. The tourists might not even belong on a course this tough but they’ll play it to say they did. They’ll take 5+ hours to do it to. And remember, they’re walking! The hike is tough and it certainly hurts the pace at the Black. I scored BPB low in this category but not a 1 or a zero. The staff is probably a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of rounds and customers. There’s not much more they can do when offering up a course like that with such a low price.

Score: 2.5

Amenities

The part of Long Island that Bethpage is on isn’t exactly a place you’ll want to hang around in after you play the Black course. The park itself has some amenities like a restaurant, tennis, hiking, etc, but there’s no way you’re up for any of that shit if you just hiked the Black. You’re thisclose to New York City. Go explore it. Go to a Mets game, go to a horse track, go to Manhattan and do any of 100 million things there is to do there. Pro tip – when you’re done with any of that find a good seat at Scores and don’t use the ATM once you get there.

As for the golf amenities, this is another category that Bethpage will lose a point or more. The range is a joke. It has no grass hitting area. It was significantly improved from 2002 to 2006 when I came back but it still isn’t up to snuff with what you’d expect at a major championship course. Note that they make a range on one of the other courses when the PGA Tour comes to town. The putting green is fine but there’s no short game area or anything resembling one that I ever saw when I was on the premises. There’s no golf carts on the Black so you’d think they might have a caddie program. They do, but it wasn’t official or affiliated with the course ten years ago. It was local dudes offering to carry your bag for somewhere between $50 to $100 for the round. They sit around the outside of the clubhouse and appear more likely to rob you than they do to give you the right club or read a putt. They might all know their shit and be great caddies, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Score: 3.5

Difficulty

Outside of the pond in front of the 8th hole there’s not a water hazard on the course. There are a few forced carries, TO THE FAIRWAYS, that may be too much for weaker players so you’ll want to make sure you’re playing the correct tees. Note that the white tees are still nearly 6700 yards. That’s long for an average player. Most people don’t check the yardage and tee it up on  the white tees without thinking. That’s too much golf course for a guy hitting 200 yard tee shots. As I said earlier, many of the greens are flat-ish, with a few exceptions. I think the main challenges thrown at you by the course are the rough and the approach shots. It is a tee to green course. No short game wiz that hits it shorter than average is going to win a tournament on the Black.

I do think that the course is fair and playable for players that have an 18 index or lower as long as they don’t lack distance. You have to be pretty far off course to have tree problems at Bethpage. You aren’t likely to lose a ball. The longish heather is way away from the fairway and there’s plenty of primary rough to play from should you miss a fairway. The most difficult task ahead of you playing BPB is hitting to the greens. Many are raised or sit on top of a decent size hill. You’ll be clubbing up for much of your round because a 150 shot here will likely play 160 on most holes with just a few exceptions. There aren’t any true blind shots but there are several holes that you can’t see the putting surface from the fairway. The Black fucks with you that way.

Per usual, this rating isn’t based on a 5 being “way too hard”. I’m rating a course a 5 when I’d say it’s playable and enjoyable, but not easy, for players of all levels. Bethpage Black is hard, but it isn’t tricked up and there’s nothing crazy asked of you outside of the rough and some extra yardage. I don’t think a short knocking 25 handicap would have any fun on it, but the course wasn’t built for them. It was built for championship golf. It has a high slope and course rating for a reason. It is going to punch you in the face a few times. Can you take a punch? If so, play the Black. Don’t be scared.

Score: 4.5

Composite

The composite score from all categories above takes a hit for the service, pace, and amenities the facility lacks, but there’s no shame in the score I arrived at. The course and its conditioning are as good as it gets. If that has more to do with your decision to check a course out then by all means you need to put Bethpage Black on your bucket list. If you need to be pampered, ride in a cart, and have everyone on staff service you like you’re the 1st lady, go play somewhere else. This is the People of New York’s course, they don’t want you here anyway.

Score: 4.25

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Augusta Land, Coming Soon?

Something Is Brewing Around Magnolia Lane

What if I told you that Augusta National was about to get bigger and better? Is that something you’d be interested in? The “better” part of that statement is debatable depending on who you ask. Last year after Jordan Spieth waxed the field at the Masters a construction project began on Berckman’s Road. The club did it all with their own money. The idea of that project was to widen it, but why? With the road construction under way the Men of the Masters began buying up property around the course just like they did when they were ready to expand the driving range, practice facility, and parking areas a few years ago. What is there plan now? No one seems to know but this article from MetroSpirit.com gives some ideas.

As the article goes on to say, things around the ANGC have changed quite a bit. Neighborhoods have been bought up, flattened, and are now gone forever. Businesses along Washington Road (where the main entrance to the club is) are wondering what is next and what will happen to them. If you’ve ever been to Augusta you know the charm it had and you know you also drove by the club (assuming it wasn’t Masters week) to sneak a peak at Magnolia Lane and the front gate. Everything was in its place and was a snug fit. Now imagine that Olive Garden, the Hooters, the Publix, gone. It isn’t far fetched. As MetroSpirit documented, the club overpaid for a JiffyLube just to get the land and move the establishment down the road. So what are they going to do with all this land?

Remember in 2013 when Augusta National presented us with their VIP area called Berckman’s Place? I think whatever they’ve got planned going forward will be something along those lines. Luxury lodging will be part of it but I have to imagine a full on high end experience for those that can afford that type of entrance to Masters week is on the horizon. Imagine it, the wealthiest of patrons never having to leave the grounds while taking in Berckman’s Place and whatever else they’ve got cooked up. They’ll party all night on the grounds of the club. They’ll feast on peach cobbler and drink mint juleps into the morning (or until the club says its bed time). Could there even be a full sized replica hole to play? A short course? A putting course? Lodging for the players and caddies? The possibilities are endless. Now hopefully a media member attending Billy Payne’s Masters week presser will have the stones to ask him about it. I want more info and I want to be wowed by it.

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Kapalua Time Redux

A Traditional Tradition

There’s no golf on today, the Tournament of Champions starts this week, and that means its time for me to re-post my now two year old course review of Kapalua’s Plantation course. Bottom line, the place is pretty damn good and I haven’t scored many tracks nearly as high. Put it on your bucket list and hope you get there someday. Enjoy.

Kapalua Plantation Course Review

 

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Drama At The Western Am

Western Strong

The Western Amateur is largely held as the toughest test in amateur golf. It is also one of the oldest championships of its kind along with its brother, the U.S. Am. The Western tougher than the USGA’s championship because the field is hand picked. There is no qualifying. You get in on your resume and your ranking. That’s it. Nobody sneaks in. The top 150 or so amateurs that can make there way to the Midwestern host site face a grueling stroke and match play test once play begins, and only the strong survive nearly a week later. In some years, the champion is the best of the best. Danny Lee, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods have all won the Western as top ranked players. In other years, the nature of match play rears its ugly head and a lesser known wins. What becomes of Dawson Armstrong is anybody’s guess.

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That’s Armstrong above waving to the crowd after his victory. The Lipscomb sophomore to be beat Oregon’s Aaron Wise on the 20th hole of their match. At the Western, the final is only 18 holes. Armstrong and Wise went to extras and the eventual champ holed his third shot for an eagle out of the bunker. Wise had a putt to push the match to a 21st hole that missed and made Armstrong the champ. That’s a tough way to lose, but sometimes you simply get beat. Kudos to both kids for beating a solid field, including top ranked Robbie Shelton, on their way to the championship match.

As for the Western Golf Association that runs the event, shame on them for not having any video of this dramatic championship match. It is fucking 2015 and they have Twitter, why not Periscope a few holes and give amateur golf fans a taste of the tourney? The lack of awareness by the WGA isn’t too surprising. They’ve got in their own way in how they do things for years. What they did do well is pick their host site, Rich Harvest Farms. The limited member private club in the far Chicago suburbs is a perfect host site for an event like this. Jerry Rich’s colossal property hosted the 2009 Solheim Cup, the 2015 Palmer Cup, and will even host an LPGA event in the not to distant future.

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Course Review: TPC Deere Run

It Is That Time Of Year

Yes, ’tis John Deere week. Which means my annual post reviewing TPC Deere Run must be regurgitated to you. Do what you like with it. I’m just going to put it out there, if you like it you can take it, if not you can send it right back.

TPC Deere Run Course Review

 

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A Good Belting: JT Spencer And Peter Millar Belts

Millar Time!

Golf Digest’s Mr. Style, Marty Hackel, says that only young athletic guys can where white belts. He goes by the Rule of 36. It states, one should be both size 36 waist or smaller and 36 years and younger to wear white belts. With that in mind, its high time I seek other ways to hold up my golf trousers. I’m getting too close to both limitations. My first stop in search of style was the great Peter Millar. I’m a big fan of anything PM makes, but their belts might be my new favorite thing, especially the Crocodile Square Ring belt seen here:

That one runs $345.oo at MSRP. Peter Millar also has belts for other budgets for those that don’t want to spend that kind of cheese. Their collegiate logo belts are awesome if you’re one to want to support your alma mater.

That’s a great look. Not every school is available due to licensing agreements. My favorite of the PM selection is probably the line of course logo belts they offer. You won’t find the course logo belts on the Peter Millar site, at least I couldn’t, but they are available in select proshops and via J.T. Spencer (see below).

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This is the version I have with the famed Baltusrol logo on it. It is probably my favorite new addition to my golf wardrobe. See all the styles at the Peter Millar website.

More Customization

If you’re like me, you like your gear to be unique, and you want to use it to express yourself on the golf course. One can find more customization and as high of quality product with J.T. Spencer. Have your heard of J.T. Spencer? Perhaps not as the product line is fairly new. About four years ago J.T. found himself eyeing an embroidered belt in the Pinehurst golf shop. It was excessively expensive and not made in the United States. Like any good golfing patriot, J.T.refused to pay that kind of dough for foreign merchandise and created his own product line. A click on the link above will show you more of what J.T. Spencer has to offer. The belts are just like the Peter Millar embroided belts I’ve already showed you. They are very high quality with more customization options than you can think of.

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Corporate logos, course logos, school logos, palm trees, cocktails, fish….you name it, they can do it. They’ll even customize the label to have your own golf shop shown. I picked up one of these a few weeks ago just to add a splash of color to my belt game. Both the Peter Millar and JT Spencer embroidered belts retail at about $85. I’ve been very satisfied with the ones I have. In fact, I think its become an addiction as I can’t wait to go buy my next one.

**ShutFaceGolf is not in any way affiliated with Peter Millar or J.T. Spencer, nor has any endorsement of this product been paid for by either company. The views expressed in this post are solely from the author and publisher of ShutFaceGolf.com. In other words, I just really like the belts. I hope you do to. Enjoy!

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Course Review: Torrey Pines (South)

The boys tee it at Torrey Pines this week at the Farmers, so it is as good a time as any to re-post my review of the South course from last year. Enjoy!

Torrey Pines(South Course) – La Jolla, CA (Architects: William P. Bell/Rees Jones re-design)

Background

The San Diego, California area has always been known for its military presence, and during World War II the land that both Torrey Pines Golf Courses sit on today was a camp used for training anti-aircraft artillery replacement specialists. It was called Camp Callan and it was torn down after the war ended. At this time a special election dictated that the land would be used for a public golf course. In the 50s William Bell laid out the golf course routing you (mostly) see today, however, Bell never saw his work finished as he died before a putt was ever holed at either course. The South Course that I discuss in this post was redesigned by Rees Jones around the year 2000 in hopes of landing a major tournament, which it did when it hosted…

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